New Delhi, March 6 (SocialNews.XYZ) The Indian startup ecosystem has evolved dynamically over the last two decades, demonstrating a rapid growth trajectory. However, despite the rapid growth of the startup ecosystem, there are certain challenges that are still left to be addressed.
One significant challenge, which needs attention this International Women's Day, is equitable funding for women-led enterprises and women impact businesses. According to Traxcn database, only 2 per cent of female only founded companies and 26.2% companies with female co-founders received any funding.
Last few years have seen an emergence of mission-driven companies, attempting to solve for critical social and environmental challenges. Caspian Debt, is one such organisation that helps enable the growth of enterprises that work towards creating social and/or environmental impact, in a responsible, transparent, and sustainable manner. The company works in sectors and with companies where debt capital is scarce and much needed.
Over the years, Caspian Debt has funded over 225 social enterprises, startups, and financial institutions across sectors, out of which, 33% of the loan amount disbursed by Caspian Debt during FY 22 were to women led companies.
This is in a wide contrast to the larger industry figures where only 2 per cent funding goes to women. One of the primary reasons behind the encouraging figures at Caspian is the team, which is very diverse and is intentional about reaching out to more women entrepreneurs. The organisational processes which include sourcing, due diligence, credit committee approval and disbursements are aligned to achieve the objective of reaching more women entrepreneurs.
Research say that women dare to dream big despite lack of opportunities and resources. They have been marking their identity, across domains and industries, confidently taking on leadership roles in all sectors of the economy, along with the society witnessing a steady rise in women entrepreneurs in India. A conducive ecosystem for budding & existing women entrepreneurs gives them the boost and adds to the economy.
While a recent report by NASSCOMM says, 18 per cent of startups in India are led by at least one woman founder or co-founder. The report also highlights that between 2019 and 2022, 17 per cent of investment deals in India were raised by startups with women leaders, indicating the rise of women leaders in India's start-up ecosystem.
Avishek Gupta, MD & CEO, Caspian Debt, says, "Women entrepreneurs we have worked with are innovative and versatile, and have been seen to successfully lead impact driven initiatives. We have a higher acceptance rate and retention rate for women led organisations.
"Fort-three per cent of the companies funded by Caspian Debt since inception are either women led or deliver a product or service that benefit women or employ majority women. During FY 22 alone, 33% of the loan amount disbursed by Caspian Debt were to women led companies. We at Caspian Debt believe in enabling those, who have a vision to build a better world, and women surely make a large part of it. We invest in women not only because it is the right thing to do but also because it makes business case for us."
The lack of pipeline of women entrepreneurs is considered as one of the biggest challenges of reaching women entrepreneurs leading to poor funding outcomes. While this is true to some extent, a significant investment needs to be made to ensure that regular flow of women enterprises is sourced. Caspian Debt has a strong incubator, accelerator and entrepreneur networks catering to women entrepreneurs. It has integrated gender lens in startup school curriculums of incubators/accelerators and has reached out to over 200 women entrepreneurs through these outreach programs.
Caspian Debt's own team is built in a way that 50% of the client facing team consists of women. The Head of Underwriting and the Head of Operations are women. Fifty per cent of Caspian Debt's functional leads reporting to the CEO are women and women constitute more than 40 per cent of the team. While these investments in the eco-system and the team will take time to deliver results these need to be made now to stay true to company's commitment to 2X challenge of making atleast 30% investments in women led and women impact businesses.
As women overcome hurdles in their homes and society and race towards their ambitions, there has never been a better time with the market gaining consciousness and making it easy for them to set up their enterprises.
Multiple platforms, organisations and initiatives have come up that can help women set up, grow and lead businesses, fostering a more inclusive and innovative environment.
Impact organisations led by women have an edge in addressing social and cultural barriers along with important issues that impact the society at large. Appropriate Funding type and support for organisations led by women is an important step towards encouraging women entrepreneurs, empowering women in leadership roles and achieving gender equality not only at local levels, but world over.
Gopi Adusumilli is a Programmer. He is the editor of SocialNews.XYZ and President of AGK Fire Inc.
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